Okay now that that is cleared up, I can let you in on a dark secret of mine. There is only one time in my life where I have completely gone over the edge into the deep dark abyss of addiction. And you simply can not believe what drove me there....the birth of our second child. For those of you who have bravely or stupidly went from one kid to two or for those of you who are considering adding a second child to your pack, just take this as a warning of the kinds of things that can and might very well occur to a completely normal, moderate person.
In our case, it was neither courage or stupidity that drove us to having another kid, it was pure ignorance. We always knew we wanted more than one kid, plain and simple. But had I known the havoc this second kid would wreak on my sense of stability and general sanity, I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to go there.
Having a two-year-old and a newborn and a brand spankin' new SAHM is a recipe for mental and emotional disaster. That is if you're me or anyone like me. I had decided that the birth of our second child was a perfect reason to "give up my career in reality television." I'm not sure why I put that in quotes, but it seemed like it needed quotes. I mean, is there really such a thing as a "career in reality television?" (Okay, that's another topic completely.) I had worked on several projects since the birth of our first, but now with number two on the horizon, the responsible thing would be to stay home. Yes, that would be responsible and yes, the absolute right thing to do. After all, little children need their mommies, right? Yes, they do, but what if their mommy started losing her mind? What if a normally, moderate, balanced, mentally healthy woman suddenly slipped to the other side?
At first, I was in denial that it was happening. The constant tugging of my two-year-old and the typical screaming and demands of a newborn were simply too much for this "reality television producer." This was all of sudden just too damn "real" for anyone like me. There was no escape, at times, no solution and I was buried under that suffocating feeling that "There was no end in sight." I think that's why I loved my pretend "career." I worked on TV shows. There was always a beginning, a middle and an end. Mission accomplished. Moving on. With these two needy beings at my side every minute of every day, I was beginning to realize that with this job, there was simply no end. Ever. I was imprisoned by the feeling that this was one project I would never be done with. I was a mother. I mean, I became a mother with my first, but with two kids, there was no denying it, I was a mother. Holy sh**.
In the middle of those early never-ending days, I was slowly losing my identity and my only sane grasp on the world as I knew it. Often at like 4 PM, I would stand in our kitchen looking at my new baby girl screaming in her bouncy chair and my two-year-old playing in the family room, and I would succumb to my other newborn - my addiction to Cheerios.
Yes, you heard it right. It's painful to admit it even now though I can proudly say, years later, that I have beat my addiction. I had never been a Cheerio freak but as all moms of toddlers know, Cheerios start infiltrating your world. You pull them out in all kinds of crazy instances and you find them in all kinds of crazy places. I can't pinpoint the moment it actually started, but in a weak moment at home with the kiddies, I placed a few in my mouth...and started crunching.
It must have been the satisfaction of crunching down on this little crunchy thing that got me addicted. It was also the control. It was all up to me whether this little round, bland (that's right plain Cheerios, not Honey Nut), slightly tan, nutty, piece of cereal hung out in the box, in the bowl or got chosen to be devoured by me. It all started slowly but before I knew it, I had Cheerios on my mind....a lot.
At the beginning, I was able to hide my addiction pretty well. My man would serve me up the perfect cappuccino, and I would sit with a little bowl of crunchies and tell him that Cheerios went just perfectly with his perfectly made espresso-based drink. But then off to work he would go, and I would find myself still munching dry bowls of Cheerios well after my cappuccino cup was empty. And them sometimes in the evenings after dinner, I would sheepishly tell him that I felt like a little bowl of dry Cheerios for dessert instead of some ice cream or other yummy. After all, Cheerios were much healthier than your typical sweet. Yeah, right. Much healthier, if they were being eaten in MODERATION!
Before alienating too many of you with too many details on this obsession, suffice it to say, my battle with Cheerio addiction was a part of my every waking moment. I would mindlessly crunch to alleviate the stress, the loneliness, the loss of self, the insulated feeling I had almost each and every day as I struggled to figure out how in the hell I was going to survive another day with these kids of mine. I would grab a plastic baggie full and munch it in the car, I would have my two-year-old's little plastic bowl filled with Cheerios at all times for a quick crunch around the house, and hell, if someone stopped over and saw them nearby, well then, the bowl was for my KID, you see.
As with all addicts, there comes a time when you hit "rock bottom." Again, I can't exactly pinpoint the moment of my own personal rock bottom, but it was somewhere in between seeing my two-year-old shove a handful of Cheerios into her mouth saying "I do it just like mommy does!" and having a couple of Cheerios drop out of my bra one night.
This time of my life as I was adjusting to my new reality of being a real mom was truly a haze. Except for the Cheerio thing. That part of it is vivid in my mind because it was really friggin' embarrassing. I mean, have you ever noticed what your kid's breath smells like after eating some dry plain Cheerios? Okay imagine that that breath was on you, a grown woman, and that was the mouth your husband was supposed to want to kiss when he came home from work. Need I say more? I might even go as far as to say Cheerios were a major contributing factor to one of the hardest times in my ten years of marriage.
The road away from this borderline downright disgusting compulsion was filled with all kinds of twists and turns but I am proud to say that I beat my addiction and yes, I can still have a bowl of Cheerios, bananas and milk for breakfast from time to time without getting sucked back into its death grasp. Even after adding kid number three to our chaotic pack did not tempt me back to my dependence on the crunchies.
Becoming a real mom, for me, was a slow surrender. And I still struggle with it on all kinds of levels. But that's really what it is for me. A slow, sweet, surrender to all of the joys a day with kids can bring. And I needed to really start diving into all of the nooks and crannies of motherhood instead of hiding from them by examining all of the nooks and crannies in a bowl of Cheerios. Life as a mom is certainly not always a bowl of cherries, and at one point, I was obviously trying to make my life all about that next bowl of Cheerios, but there's a lot of sweet stuff to be found if you just commit yourself to finding it. So you MWOBS out there in the middle of your hectic day struggling with all kinds of secret addictions, I feel your pain. I hear you. Hopefully you'll find your own way out in your own unique way. And in the end, you'll probably find out more about yourself than you ever knew existed. I sure did.